* nonfiction by Christopher Kempf, excerpted from MQR 53:2, Spring 2014 * I began to understand by the second beer that I’d been misled in more than mere appearances. Aubrey was not, as she suggested in the “What I’m doing with my life” section of her profile, “petting every single dog she saw” for a living, but was, like so many young San Franciscan hipsters I’d been trying to avoid, working for a tech start-up in the Financial District. *
* Lillian Li *
I eat the stinky tofu on my second day in Beijing, passing up two metal carts before finally biting the bullet at a stand in Wangfujing. I hand over ten kuai and watch as the vendor first deep-fries the tofu, and then ladles the golden cubes into a grey gravy. Then he scoops the wet tofu into a cup, spoons a dollop of hot chili paste on top, and presents the nightmare sundae to me with a long toothpick as my only utensil.